How to Make a Mint Julep, the Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby


The state of Kentucky is known for several things. One is the Kentucky Derby. The other is bourbon whiskey. And a third that combines both of them is the official drink of Kentucky Derby, the mint julep.

The mint julep is a time-honored tradition, being promoted by the Kentucky Derby since 1938. Although the steps are complicated, making one is simple and results are well worth it.


3 ounces of Bourbon Whiskey. I prefer Wild Turkey 101 but use whatever you like. Maker’s Mark is another excellent choice.

4 to 6 mint leaves.

Sugar to taste. The amount of sugar will affect how much of the whiskey bite you get. I prefer a minimal amount of sugar but use however much you like.


1. Place the mint, sugar, and a small amount of bourbon in a glass.

2. Gently mash it all, using either a cocktail muddler or a tool like a wooden spoon. Do not overmash or the mint will release its harsher flavors into the drink

3. Allow mixture to stand for 30 seconds to a minute to allow the mint leaves to fully release their flavor.

4. Strain and pour into a julep cup or other glass, twisting the sides so they are coated.

5. Fill with ice and add the rest of the bourbon.

6. Optional: Garnish with a small spring of mint

You now have a delicious drink that will keep you cool and refreshed but thirsty for more while watching the Kentucky Derby.